Bhuvneshwar Kumar Dhawan Pandya India Asia Cup 2016
Bhuvneshwar Kumar celebrates with Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya after completing a caught and bowled in the Asia Cup encounter between India and the UAEIANS

It was vital for India to test their bench strength before starting their World T20 campaign. Having locked a place in the final with three wins in three games, the match against the UAE, a dead 2016 Asia Cup T20 rubber, was the perfect opportunity for MS Dhoni to do just that.

The India skipper brought in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harbhajan Singh and Pawan Negi, with the latter making his international debut in the process, and the heartening aspect was, none of the three disappointed.

Yes, it was only against the UAE, who were outplayed by India from ball one, but to see the likes of Bhuvneshwar, Harbhajan and Negi show they can fill in, if there is an injury, is great to see.

The worry regarding Bhuvneshwar, and the reason behind him being left out of the World T20 squad, was the vanishing act of his swing in recent times. Bhuvneshwar has been successful in international cricket because he can swing the ball, but suddenly he went from being a swing bowler to a hit-the-deck, back-of-the-length bowler.

Seeing that the batsmen were not struggling for pace against his 120-130k balls, Bhuvneshwar went about increasing his bowling speeds and with it his lengths were pulled back further and further, causing his swing to go on a holiday. With that, from a wonderful new-ball swing bowler, Bhuvneshwar became a "regular Joe", unable to do much with the new ball, in-between ball or old ball.

Against the UAE, though, the old Bhuvneshwar was back. The ball was swinging both ways, and that potency was there throughout his spell. Such was his effect that he did not give away a single run in his first two overs, while picking up a wicket in those first 12 balls as well. His final figures of 4-2-8-2 was just what Dhoni would have wanted to see.

Bhuvneshwar is still not in the World T20 squad, but considering the fitness issues of Mohammad Shami, there is a good chance that the bowler might get a callup, and if he does, it looks like he is ready to contribute.

"He is a hard-working guy," Dhoni was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo when asked about Bhuvneshwar. "He always works hard in the nets and also in the gym and I feel that's something that is important for the fast bowlers, to keep themselves fit and also take the break in the best possible manner.

"That has actually helped him increase the pace but at the same time, it has not affected his swing bowling.

"That is key, because you don't want to bowl quick but lose that extra movement that you have. So that's a big positive sign for us. And when it comes to his consistency, he is still somebody who bowls very consistently with his line and length.

"So, overall, he has used the break, whether it was forced or when he was out of the side in the best possible manner and also him coming good gives us that extra option in case Shami doesn't get fit, he's somebody who can straight away come in and start doing the work for the team."

Harbhajan is also ready to contribute if needed, with the veteran offspinner, bowling four extremely tidy overs against the UAE, Thursday. Harbhajan finished with figures of 4-1-11-1 on a wicket that was aiding the seamers and Dhoni will be pleased to know he has an able backup for R Ashwin, if required, in the ICC World T20.

Finally, there was Negi, in for Ravindra Jadeja, and keen to make an impression in his first match in India colours. The left-arm orthodox's first four balls in international cricket wasn't that impressive, as he conceded nine runs, including a boundary, but from the fifth ball, he found his groove. That fifth ball also helped him to his first ever wicket for India, as Muhammad Usman found a leading edge to hole out in the deep, with the 23-year-old, the most expensive Indian buy in the IPL 2016 Player Auction, then going on to bowl two more perfectly acceptable overs.

Negi did not get to show his batting prowess, owing to the UAE making just 81 runs in their 20 overs, but there were definite signs of encouragement in there.

It would have been perfect if Ajinkya Rahane had been given an opportunity with the bat as well, but Dhoni probably wanted Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan to get bit more of a hit out in the middle, understandable with the Asia Cup final and marquee games in the World T20 coming up.

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